Back in the days before DVR, before DVD, before VCR even (yes, I am talking the stone age here!), the TV Guide was kind of your guidebook for the week. Sunday nights were Dallas nights, and whole cities became ghost towns for the duration of its timeslot. One simply did NOT miss an episode of Dallas. I seem to remember an especially tense few months of the Dallas hiatus during which the entire planet chewed their nails to shreds wondering about who shot J.R.
And what led to the success of the ratings sweep when we all tuned in to find out that Kristin was the girl with the smoking gun?
Anticipation, that’s what.
In today’s TV climate, this ratings sweep dream is less likely because quite a few of us wait until a series ends and then just rent or buy the box set and watch it marathon style. If we can be bothered. Why? Because in our McDonald’s drive thru society, we do NOT like to wait.
But here is the real question: Do we truly appreciate something if it comes too easy?
In the summer of ’78, my BFF and I had a lot in common. We were boy crazy 12-year-olds who loved hanging out in the library and editing each other’s latest novels, chocolate raisin addicts, and dedicated classic movie fans. Yes, I know. We were not exactly your run-of-the-mill preteens. We would pore over the weekly TV guide in search of films to watch… Gone With the Wind and The Wizard of Oz were generally shown once a year in primetime, so that was covered. But we were in search of lesser shown gems like Citizen Kane and To Kill a Mockingbird. To Sir With Love and Now Voyager. Gaslight. The Glass Menagerie. A Streetcar Named Desire...
The thing about these old classics was that they were not generally shown during the day. These were most often given time slots somewhere between midnight and 6 a.m. I seem to recall staying up until 2 a.m. one Sunday morning to catch a rare viewing of Camille, starring Greta Garbo and Robert Taylor.
Talk about anticipation!
When a surprisingly healthy looking Garbo finally expired of “consumption” at the end of the film, my friend and I were in floods of tears, convinced we were madly in love with Robert Taylor, determined to find out exactly WHAT consumption was, and making plans for another classic movie sleepover in the not too distant future.
It was, in a word, PERFECT. I can scarcely recall enjoying a film so very much.
These days, I have at my fingertips the means to watch pretty much anything I desire. I have Netflix and Amazon Prime, Sky TV and every movie channel imaginable. I can record whatever I like and fast-forward through the commercials (which I HATE!). There is nothing I cannot watch.
And so this Saturday afternoon, having a couple hours to myself, what did I end up watching? A repeat of Camille? The Quiet Man? Carousel?
To my eternal shame, I admit to watching “Who’s Doing the Dishes?” Where celebrities cook a meal and provide clues and four regular people try to guess who it is. The loser has to wash the dishes. Today’s loser was Towie* star Amy Childs. (Who I just heard of for the first time today – who says TV teaches us nothing? haha! I’m such a geek, I even had to Google what “Towie” was…)
It wasn’t because I had nothing better to watch. It was because I couldn’t be bothered to change the channel. I anticipated nothing, and guess what? That is exactly what I got.
Geeky 12-year-old me would be so ashamed.
* And, for the record, I would not recommend anyone actually watch Towie… (The Only Way is Essex). Just sayin’.
- feature photo: Shutterstock
- People cover: tvmediainsights.com
- Now Voyager poster: imdb.com
- Camille poster: scorpiotv.com
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